FOOD bank use in Hampshire has risen by almost 60 per cent in the past year, claims a Euro MP.
Now current Green Party MEP Keith Taylor has called for urgent action after figures showed that 22,655 people turned to foodbanks in the county in 2013/14.
He is one of the 118 candidates standing for election to represent the south-east in the European elections on May 22.
Each of the 15 parties taking part has now published their full lists of candidates, meaning the election campaign can start in earnest.
Mr Taylor, who has been an MEP since 2010, has highlighted the increase in foodbank use across the south coast.
Figures from the Trussell Trust, the charity which runs food banks, shows that 14,234 people used them in Hampshire in 2012/13.
But that increased by 59 per cent to 22,655 the following year.
And the charity’s figures show that on the Isle of Wight, the number rose from 3,875 in 2012/13 to 6,075 in 2013/14.
Mr Taylor said: “This latest set of statistics from the Trussell Trust is conclusive in proving that the so-called ‘economic recovery’ is a fallacy.
“Though the economy is growing it’s clearly not working. When thousands of my constituents are forced to use food banks, and the numbers keep growing, it’s abundantly clear that urgent action on poverty is required.
“To address the serious poverty faced by thousands in south-east England we need to ensure that jobs pay enough for people to build a life on.
“That means making the minimum wage a living wage.”
But Conservative Daniel Hannan, a fellow current MEP who is also standing for re-election, said: “I think this is conclusive proof that Mr Taylor struggles with basic economics.
“Food banks were only invented during the last Labour Government.
“Their use increased 1,000 per cent under Labour but it would be crazy to say that was because Labour threw people out of work, it was because a new service became more widespread as more people used the scheme, and that is continuing.
“It is a wonderful idea to gather unwanted food and use it, but it has no correlation with the economy.”